Q. What is the difference between scholarly sources and popular sources?
The terms scholarly and popular are used to describe significant differences between sources of information. In general terms, a source is considered scholarly or popular depending on how many qualities of either distinction they possess as listed below.
Qualities of Scholarly Sources
- Author: Written by experts (scientists, professors, scholars) in a particular field.
- Audience: Written for other experts in a particular field.
- Language: Very technical and scholarly. Not easily understood.
- Purpose: Published by non-profit or education organizations to communicate new ideas.
- Characteristics: Tend to be longer and are on very specific topics.
- Citations: Provide complete and formal citations for sources.
- Review Process: Often reviewed by a panel of scholars in the field being studied (i.e. Peer-Reviewed).
Qualities of Popular Sources
- Author: Written by professional writers, journalists, or members of the general public.
- Audience: Written for the general public.
- Language: Basic and clear. Easily understood.
- Purpose: Often published by for-profit companies for revenue and profit.
- Characteristics: Tend to be short and on topics of general interest.
- Citations: Provide informal or no citations for sources.
- Review Process: Reviewed by an editor or self-published with no formal review process.
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